Tuesday, July 23, 2019 -
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Saline and slavery

Strategic Medical Reserve

Can you imagine this kind of world? Your doctor prescribes an antibiotic. You go to the pharmacy. The antibiotic is unavailable.

Or this: You need surgery. The hospital informs you, however, that the surgery must be delayed because the hospital possesses insufficient scalpels. The surgeons are there; the tools are not.

Or this: Certain common over-the-counter medicines, such as ibuprofen, aspirin and Mucinex are in short supply. Maybe they’ll be in next week; maybe.

Or this: There is no IV bag to supply you with saline solution. You are dehydrated. Dehydration is a potentially fatal condition. To treat it, it is necessary for many hospitals to use old-fashioned, awkward, time-consuming and potentially painful alternatives to IV-bag delivery.

Actually, you need not imagine this last condition. It is happening today. The primary supplier of IV bags is a factory in Puerto Rico that was crippled during the recent hurricane there.

That is how vulnerable our medical system seems to be. As it was recently put on NPR by a high official at one of the top hospitals in the country, Mass. General, while this country has a strategic petroleum reserve, it does not have a strategic medical supply reserve.

Medical charities deliver medical supplies to crisis spots around the world, from war-torn countries to Third World countries. I recently heard a radio spot from Doctors Without Borders about its ability to inoculate 750,000 children in short order — if they had the funds.

Well, it’s not just about the funds. It’s about the supplies. It is, as the Boy Scout motto has it, about being prepared.

I assumed that basic medical supplies will always be available. I assumed that there are sufficient backups for everything medical — somewhere. It seems that I was wrong.

Say that operations at the Puerto Rico IV-bag factory are quickly restored. Does this address the problem? The factory could be hit again, or the producer of some other essential medical supply could be hit. A strategic medical reserve seems as least as important as a strategic petroleum reserve.

The fact that major hospital heads are worried about this speaks for itself. I hope someone in the Trump administration is listening.

You know that annoying signal that interrupts your radio program once a month, the test for the Emergency Alert System? We should be able to do at least as well for medical supplies.

Loose Lips Sink Ships

— WW II propaganda poster

Steve Bannon calls President Trump “treasonous” one day and the next day says his support of the President is “unwavering.” Why do we pay attention to Steve Bannon, such a blatantly irresponsible person?

President Trump brags to North Korea’s dictator that his nuclear red button is bigger than North Korea’s. Why do we not pay attention to such blatantly irresponsible language?

“Fake news” is often not fake at all; it is just that I don’t like the news, so I mislabel it. Why does anyone give this term credibility?

Iran says that America is the “Great Satan” and Israel is the “Little Satan.” Why have faith that this kind of country is keeping its word on a nuclear deal?  (On the supposed access of inspectors to  all Iranian facilities, color me skeptical.)

“Prince.” Not a title you’d want if it were a noun and its adjective were “Saudi.” Eleven “Saudi princes” were arrested by the Saudi ruler for protesting, among other things, new rules that “princes” must now pay their own utility bills.

In the Cleveland Jewish News, a wonderful sister publication, no one dies anymore. There are no obituaries, only “lifecycles.” And cantors might not sing anymore, as one cantor praises “silence” as a great spiritual teacher.

These days, if a union makes a demand, it’s deemed “class warfare” by opponents. France’s president is quoted, “For our society to improve, we need people to succeed. We musn’t be jealous of them.” I’ll leave the class debate to others, noting only that the idea that children fail if they do not do better than their parents is a secular value, not a Jewish one. If one sinks a ship of false values, that’s a good thing.

Similarly, Moses demanded of Pharaoh, “Let my people go, that they may serve Me.” Pharaoh resisted, even after nine plagues. His verbal stubbornness sank his ship of slavery.

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg may be reached at hillel@ijn.com

Copyright © 2018 by the Intermountain Jewish News

Hillel Goldberg

IJN Executive Editor | hillel@ijn.com

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